South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Parliamentary committee’s stand commendable :: 

It is good to see that the parliamentary standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs is holding its ground in opposiing several recommendations of the government to the proposed amendment to the Anti- Corruption Commission Act which, if passed, will curb the powers of the anti-graft body.

The Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law Ministry on Saturday, has restated its opposition to a government move to strip the Anti-Corruption Commission of its power to sue public servants on graft charges without permission of the government.

We understand that this has been the position of the committee since the Anti-Corruption Commission (amendment) Bill-2011 was placed in parliament on February 28 proposing a new Section 32A that stipulates that the provisions in Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be followed in filing a graft case against a judge, magistrate or public servant.

There has been stern resistance, both from within the legislators, and the civil society as a whole, to the idea of bringing in any changes to the ACC Act of 2004 that would curb the independence of the anti-corruption commission and make it beholden to the government, as this and the proposal to appoint a secretary to the commission by the government instead of the ACC are likely to do.

We must restate our disappointment, as we had done in the past when the changes to the acts were proposed, at the government’s soft pedaling on the idea of strengthening the ACC. The government has gone back on its electoral pledge of strenhthening the commission, and instead of giving it more tooth, is planning to curb its capability through the proposed changes.

It is a peculiar phenomenon in Bangladesh that no democratic government had wanted an effective anti-graft body. Given the pervasive presence of the phenomenon we need an anti-graft body that will be independent in all respects including financial and be free from influence of the government or the administration. We commend the parliamentary committee for its stance and would hope that its recommendations would be incorporated fully.

Source: The Daily Star – 24/10/2011